Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back From The Dead

I have to preface this blog with a big apology: I am so sorry I fell off the face of the earth for seven months. As you can guess these months have been a hellish roller coaster ride for me, but I didn't write about it. Even despite all the caring and generous support I have gotten from the wonderful LEO ladies who read my blog, I just had to walk away from this blog for a while. I don't know why. Mostly it was a lack of time, which I'll get into later. And partly it was from feeling totally lost and just trying to focus on other goals. So why am I back here now? Because, for the first time in seven months, I actually have some good news to report!

But first, the past seven months of our lives deserve some explanation:

After JT got fired, we quickly realized we would not be able to afford our expensive apartment. We broke our lease and moved in with my parents. They were very generous to us, and gave us their master bedroom which was big enough to fit the baby's furniture in too. They gave us so much help with our little Youngling, and so much patience and compassion. But it starts to wear on everybody after a while. We lived there for almost six months.

JT was not happy. Actually he was spiraling down into a serious depression and wasn't himself at all. He was changing the whole orientation of his life. He was used to his identity as an LEO and police recruit, and used to being the provider for us. Then suddenly he was telling me to quit school and get a full time job. He went back to school himself for a few months, hoping to get closer to getting his bachelor's. For a while he decided to leave law enforcement forever and become a physician's assistant. This path would have taken him five or six years at least but he felt like it was the only way he could make the kind of money he wanted to make and do the kind of job he wanted to do. He drove a long way to a community college twice a week and took English, Psychology, and Algebra. He excelled in his classes for the short time that he was there.

JT got a job working graveyard shifts on-call at a hospital as an EMT, and this gave him back some of his sense of self worth as he performed CPR on emergency room patients and helped save their lives. As difficult as it is collecting human waste and doing catheters and such, JT likes that job.

I did not quit school. I knew it was not a good idea for me to quit school when I was within a year of finishing my master's. Instead I pushed my own graduation date up a semester and took on a heavier course load to finish quicker. I continued to work part-time at the library, but continued to search desperately for full-time library jobs. I applied for some, but was mostly rejected, or just didn't hear back. Without my degree there isn't much I can do. I worked very hard on school. That's another reason I couldn't blog at all--because I have a guilt complex that comes up any time I set aside studying for something else. I can't do it. I have to do my schoolwork, first and foremost. This got very difficult, because even in spite of all the help my parents were giving me, it wasn't enough. I just had that much work to do. On top of my homework, tests, lectures and readings, I had to write fourteen papers on different topics in library science and put it all into a website of my own creation, as part of a kind of "culminating experience" project to make me eligible for graduation. So I started bringing Jedi Youngling over to JT's parents once a week. They'd play with her all day and I would study all day, and I actually started getting more done.

Jedi Youngling was the only one of us who flourished during this difficult period. She had so much family around, and developed really strong bonds to her grandfather on my side and her grandma on JT's. In addition to grandparents she had aunties around often and they and their friends lavished tons of attention on her. She learned to stand, walk, clap her hands, and do so many other things while she was at my parents' house. She turned one year old, and we threw a huge birthday party for her at the park. Lots of my friends and coworkers were there and they gave her beautiful clothes and toys. All things considered, she was doing pretty well.

But she wasn't sleeping on her own anymore. JT had started bringing her to our bed to sleep and this formed a new and dangerous habit. Personally, I'm not a believer in cosleeping. I think there's enough research that shows babies sleep better when they can wake up at night and self-soothe and be back to sleep in minutes. When you let your baby sleep with you, she doesn't learn that skill. JY used to know how to do that but pretty soon became reliant on mommy and daddy being with her. I insisted to JT that her doctor said this was not a good idea. But it quickly got to where she wouldn't sleep on her own and we had to bring her to bed just to stop her crying.

All of this was very difficult on our marriage. Between the graveyard shifts, the parents down the hall and the baby who rarely slept in her own bed, we were not able to find much time for intimacy or togetherness. Just when we needed most to support each other and grow together, we hardly ever found a chance.

After applying for the 10th library job with no interview, and after things became more tense with my parents, I broke down and begged JT's dad to talk to him and do something to help us. He did--he talked to JT and he wore down some of JT's resistance to getting other jobs and getting us out of my parents'. He also talked to the chief of police for his city, and that chief of police was one amazingly smart guy.

He went to a convention where all the chiefs from all the cities in SoCal were gathered, and walked right up to a table where he knew one chief was hiring and another chief sitting at that table happened to be one of JT's former employers. He said, "Hey, you're hiring for a temporary jailer right? I know a guy who would fit the job description." And he proceeded to tell them about JT. Suddenly JT's former employer perks up, and says, "Oh, that guy used to work for me! Yeah, he was the best! I'd hire him back if I could, but we don't have the budget right now."

So I'm sure you can guess what happened next: after hearing glowing recommendations from these two police chiefs, the hiring chief of police at this other department gave JT a call. Within a few weeks, he was the temporary jailer there, and was getting full-time hours while training.

There was an opening there for a permanent full-time jailer, and JT was invited to apply. About a hundred other guys applied, including some guys that were former employees with that department. We weren't sure what would happen there, but we decided to go ahead and move out of my parents'. We took a leap of faith. We found a really nice little house (a duplex) in a city in the Inland Empire that's farther for JT's work but a good commute to mine. And JT loves this area--he wanted to live here because it's very safe.

We moved here a few weeks ago. There are still lots of things we're looking for and haven't found yet. But we have our own home again and after getting through the hectic move, we're starting to relax and mellow out again. JT left school, and was happy to do so to work at a police department again. His sense of self returned to him. We both took pride making our new home nice. We celebrated both our birthdays recently and I made him a sign in big letters: "Happy Birthday to a World Champ Dad!" (I wrote it in orange because JT is a Giants fan and they won the world series.)

As could be expected, Jedi Youngling wasn't totally happy about the move at first. She would freak out every time we laid her down to change her diaper, probably frightened by the high pointed ceiling in her room. I started reading a great book to help me get her back to sleeping in her crib, Sleeping Through The Night by Jodi Mindell, Ph.D. I started her on a new bedtime routine which involved bathing her, changing her into pajamas, reading to her, singing and rocking her, and putting her in her crib and walking away. She naturally resisted at first, and I had to let her cry but checked on her every few minutes. But it got better, and for the past week she has slept in her own crib and has not awakened once during the night.

I also started reading some books that helped me to start healing our marriage. I read Surrendering to Marriage by Iris Krasnow, I Only Say This Because I Love You by Deborah Tannen, and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Ph.D. The first book was more to help me recognize that my marriage was good and worth fixing, and the other two were to help me learn better patterns of communicating. After applying these insights about how women unknowingly talk to men in ways that are perceived as controlling, I am transforming the way I talk to JT and am noticing awesome results. I mean, I already had a wonderful and loving husband. We just got so beaten down by life this year, we needed to take some time to realize how many good things we do have. I learned how I could talk to JT in a way that is more appreciative, trusting, and accepting. JT's reading Men Are From Mars too, and we talk about it now and then and compare notes. He's getting a lot out of it too.

OK, now that I've explained all of this, my good news! The good news is that JT was #1 of all the applicants for that permanent full-time jailer position, and is going through the background investigation now. He continues to work there part-time and also works at the hospital once a week. I'm so glad that he has found this new police department, because I hear they are really fair and good to their employees. They discussed the possibility of sending JT to the academy at a later date so he might still become a sworn officer in a few years!

So I just have one more thing to say: I am so grateful for all the support I received from you guys while JT was in the academy. I hope that after my long absence, I will still enjoy your trust and support. For both me and JT, a new career and a new life is just beginning. Hope you'll join me again.